Photo by Emily Bowler
Terrence Higgins Trust has released new guidelines for having sex during the pandemic – including not kissing, wearing a face mask, and washing your hands before and after intercourse.In a blog published today on its website, the sexual health charity shared advice on how to mitigate the risk of coronavirus infection when having sex. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was against government guidelines to visit another person’s home, and even when the lockdown had eased, having sex with someone from outside your household was technically illegal under the COVID legislation.
Now that these rules have changed, Terrence Higgins Trust hopes that its tips will help partners enjoy sex, while lessening the risk of spreading coronavirus. However it does advise that the safest sexual partner during the pandemic is “yourself or someone you live with”. It also notes that “masturbation, using sex toys and phone or cam sex are the safest options as they can be done without being in close proximity to anyone else”.For those who do choose to have sex outside of their household, Terrence Higgins Trust advises keeping it to one partner.And when it comes to sex, there are many precautions that should be taken, according to the guidelines. Before and after having sex, participants should wash their hands for 20 seconds. Wearing a mask during sex is advisable, as is “favouring positions” that don’t face one another. Lisa Hallgarten, head of policy and public affairs at sexual health charity Brook, told VICE News that the Terrence Higgins Trust guidelines are a reasonable response to sexual health during the pandemic: “The Terrence Higgins Trust guidelines are pragmatic, recognising that people are having sex or wanting to, and being as realistic as possible about a harm-reduction approach to partnered sex.”While these guidelines are useful, Hallgarten said that the government’s own response to sexual health has been less than adequate.“The fact is that people's sexual and reproductive health needs did not disappear during COVID-19,” said Hallgarten. “The government was responsive to abortion providers and have allowed abortion medication to be posted out following remote consultations. Overall though, sexual health has never been seen as a health priority.”